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High-impact tutoring is a proven solution for helping students make up the instructional time they have lost.

Although high-impact tutoring can take a variety of forms, CityTutor DC believes that all models should meet as many of the standards below as possible to ensure quality.

The characteristics of a successful high-impact tutoring program are:


Students will not care about what a tutor may be trying to teach them unless they know the tutor cares for who they are. It is the care that tutors show that fuels the motivation necessary for students to move forward academically.

Focused on tutor effectiveness

Tutors are the most important factor in helping students make academic gains, so they have to be chosen, trained, and retained carefully. Tutors need to have solid knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching, be well supervised, and have opportunities for growth. As much as possible, tutors should be drawn from and reflect the communities they serve, such that students can readily see themselves in their tutors.

Supported by high-quality curriculum

The curriculum that tutors use with students should be aligned with state standards and grounded in high-quality research (particularly in areas such as early literacy). It should be specifically designed for tutors, who may not have as much pedagogical content knowledge as teachers, to use with students.


Research has conclusively established a connection between the intensity of tutoring—provided it meets other standards of quality—and its impact.

Conducted in small groups

Tutors should be working with no more than four students at any given time.


Students should be regularly assessed using high-quality, aligned formative assessments. The data generated by those assessments should be used to adjust what tutors work on with students. That formative assessment data, along with other key data on quality (e.g., attendance, summative test scores, student satisfaction), should be used for continuous improvement.

Collaborative with schools

Ideally, tutoring should be embedded in schools themselves. Not only can deep connections between school and tutoring enable tutors to readily sync with teachers and administrators to learn what students need, but it is also a means of ensuring greater equity of access (when they are open, schools are the only institutions where all students are likely to be.) But tutoring can take place in other settings as long as efforts are made to connect what tutors are doing with what students are learning in school.